“It’s Friday girls night in game night on zoom with friends,” Paige sang.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, I thought. I’m not a big fan of Friday girls night in game night on zoom with friends, but I had nothing better to do, so I might as well get some much needed socialization, since staring at yourself and three other people on a computer screen while you try to play charades counts as socialization these days.
“Does everyone have a pen and paper?” Paige asked. Melissa and Jenna nodded. “Do you have it, Steph?”
I nodded. “Yeah, one sec. Let me grab a pen.” I stood up, showing off the fuzzy blue pajama bottoms I was wearing, despite it being 5:30 pm.
“What are we playing?” Melissa asked as I sat back down.
I smiled. Scattergories was definitely something I could get behind.
“How do we see the categories?” Jenna asked. I was surprised. It was the most invested Jenna had ever seemed in Friday girls night in game night on zoom with friends. Maybe she was as hyped for Scattergories as I was. Jenna’s really smart, so if she was going to try, it made me more excited to play.
“I found a list online, so I’m going to screenshare it,” Paige said. “The letter is C. It’s going up in three...two...one!”
The list went up, and a three minute countdown clock started in the corner.
Body of water
Something in the Northwest Territories
I scribbled furiously, trying to think of the most obscure answers. Before I knew it, time was up. I felt good about my list.
Paige looked at each of us. “Steph, do you want to read first?”
“Sure. I had Cassandra Clare, Caspian Sea, Canary, Croatia, Charlie Brown, Chanukah”
“I have that,” Jenna cut in
I was disappointed to have had my streak broken, but also surprised that I had made it that far down the list without any overlaps. I smiled and resumed reading.
“Then I had Cookies, nothing for the Northwest Territories, Cardigan–”
“Nope. I’ve got that,” Paige said.
“No, that one was so good,” I moaned, clutching at fake pearls in mock misery. Everyone giggled. “Fine. I’ll keep going. Cousin–”
“I’ve got that again.”
“Damnit, Paige!” I yelled, faking fury. Everyone laughed again. “Fine, fine. I’ve got two left. Canasta, and Chris Kreider.”
“Nice. I’ll go next,” Jenna said.
Steph had a good round, but I honestly didn’t really care. I liked Scattergories, and Facetiming with the girls every Friday, but I really just wanted to say hi to everyone and then lie down with my dog, Captain and watch The Office until 2 am.
“Ok, so I had Charles Dickens, Colorado river, Crow, China”
Paige raised her hand slightly. “I have that.”
I crossed it off my list, and kept reading. “Cruella De Vil, Steph already said Chanukah,” I shrugged, and Steph pouted again, then stuck out her tongue and smirked. “Then I have Cupcakes, Cold,”
“That’s a good one,” Paige said with admiration. Steph nodded.
“Then I have Cashmere sweater, Cool aunt,” Everyone laughed. “Chess, and Christen Press.”
“Melissa, would you like to go next?”
“I would,” she said, sounding incredibly cocky.
“I would,” I said confidently. I was proud of my answers. I had definitely outsmarted the game. “I had Cass, like Kiera Cass, from The Selection.”
Steph grinned at that.
“Then I had Cape Cod Bay, Crow–”
“Um, I had crow,” Jenna said. I rolled my eyes. Jenna had never even cared about game night. Why did it matter what she had? If she doesn’t like game night, she shouldn’t have even come, so her answers shouldn’t count, but whatever. “Ugh, fine. Sorry. I’ll cross it out. Then I have Colombia, then Charles,”
“Who’s Charles? From what show?” Paige asked.
“There has to be a cartoon character from something that’s named Charles.”
“Yeah, but from what show,” Steph said, clearly annoyed.
“You need to be specific. That’s how it works,” Jenna added.
I was pissed, because there had to be a Charles in something. I was technically right, and technically right is right.
“I think the brother from Sofia the First is named Charles,” I said. Ha! Saved.
“Someone’s going to fact check that,” Paige said, joking.
“I will,” Steph said, pulling out her phone. She had this nasty smile like she wanted me to be wrong, even though my answer was totally valid.
“Whatever,” I said, rolling my eyes, and trying to return to a level of positivity. “I have Christmas–”
“No good,” Paige said. “I have it.”
“Ok. Cake, and then there has to be candy in the Northwest Territories, right?” Steph rolled her eyes, but didn’t say anything. Good. I deserved a point for that answer. “For an item of clothing I said Cape, I couldn’t think of a family member–”
“Before you continue,” Steph said, “The brother in Sofia the First is named James, so the point is no good.”
But it was good. How could they not see that? And why did Steph have to act like it was her job to police the game? I didn’t buy her whole I just want to have fun and play the game right act. There had to be a cartoon character named Charles somewhere. I opened my mouth to explain that, when Paige spoke first.
“Why don’t you just finish out your list, Melissa?”
“All I have left is Checkers, and for star athletes, Cedric Diggory.”
“Is that really valid?” Steph asked, sounding skeptical.
“Just leave it be,” Jenna said, holding the bridge of her nose.
Good. Cedric Diggory is a perfectly good answer. It didn’t say real athlete, it said star athlete, and Cedric Diggory was the star seeker for Hufflepuff. I added up my points, counting Charles and Cedric. With eight points, I was definitely going to win.
I was seriously getting annoyed with Melissa. The game had clear rules, and even though there were no stakes, there was no reason to break them. I wanted her to knock it off, but I really didn’t have the energy to start shit. What was it going to accomplish? I just wanted to finish the game, see either Steph win and gloat while pretending not to gloat Oh my god, I didn’t even think I did that well but like, you have to admit, those were some pretty good answers, like who even thinks of canasta oh my god or see Melissa win and straight up gloat while Steph not so subtly complains that she didn’t really win and that winning doesn’t even mean anything. Hopefully Paige could calm everyone down, and I could go back to Captain and Michael Scott, who are waiting for me.
Friday girls night in game night on zoom with friends was definitely not going as planned. Melissa’s answers were questionable, and Steph looked like she wanted to reach through the screen and strangle her. Even Jenna, who was usually pretty subdued, seemed unhappy. All I wanted was for us to have a nice night. To hang out as friends. We’d run out of news to tell each other three weeks ago, so Scattergories and charades were the only way to stay engaged.
“Ok, I’ll read my list,” I said, trying to keep my voice light. “I had Eric Carle, you know The Very Hungry Caterpillar guy?” The other girls shrugged. Steph had a half smile, but she was still staring daggers at Melissa.
“Then I had Creek, because I thought it was just a type of body of water.”
“That’s fine,” Jenna said. Steph just nodded absently.
Suddenly Melissa perked up. “I just thought of a new thing for bird–a cardinal! I’m just going to give myself an extra point.”
“Well, you can’t really do that,” I tried to say, as Steph roared “That’s not how the game fucking works, Melissa!”
I was so done with her shit. First she tried to pull all these bullshit answers, lying about what she had and hadn’t written down on her paper. Then she tried to add points later. You can’t fucking do that.
I snapped. “That’s not how the game fucking works, Melissa! You can’t add shit after the time is up and everyone has read their lists. Scattergories literally has like, three rules, why can’t you just follow them? And why do you need to win so badly? It’s literally a game on zoom. It doesn’t fucking matter, so why do you need to cheat to win? And the only value of winning is the respect from the other players to be like, ‘good job, you are better than me at this.’ So if you cheat to win and the other players don’t think you deserve the win, then the win is meaningless. Also, if everyone disagrees with you, you are completely in the wrong. The more you push against everyone, the more you make yourself look like an asshole. No one is going to be like, ‘actually you have a very valid point here. I completely change my mind.’ So just fucking drop it already”
There was a stunned silence, but I didn’t care. I was so fucking tired of her cocky bullshit and I had to say something.
After what felt like a long time, Melissa said “Well Steph, you know what I think? I think you’re a–”
The window closed and our four unhappy faces were replaced with a notification that read Your free 40 minute session is over. Thank you for using zoom.